PHOENIX — County Attorney Bill Montgomery said new immigration guidelines unveiled by the sheriff’s office last week should prevent the county from being sued.
“Our analysis in looking at federal courts around the country is that courts consistently are saying the Fourth Amendment does not allow continued detention on a civil immigration detainer once a state court has ordered release,” Montgomery told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.
The attorney said he does not want to risk further lawsuits against the county.
“I, for one, am kind of tired of having to pay out taxpayer dollars to resolve civil suits,” he said, likely referring to several lawsuits filed against former Joe Arpaio during the former sheriff’s time in office.
Late last week, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone announced that his jails would no longer detain illegal immigrants past their release date to give federal authorities extra time to launch deportation proceedings.
The change was in direct opposition to the policies of Arpaio. Montgomery said Penzone had little legal choice.
“What we’re (the county) required to do now, based on what we can see federal courts ordering sheriffs to do, is less than what we’d like to do, but anything more would be ruled a constitutional violation,” he said.
Some illegal immigrants have been released since Penzone’s policy went into effect, but Montgomery said he was unsure of an exact number.
The new policy does not mean, however, that the sheriff’s office will no longer work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Montgomery said the five to six hours it takes to release an inmate should allow for plenty of communication time between the agencies.
“We certainly, as local law enforcement, do not want to impede legitimate law enforcement by the federal government,” he said, adding that he is working on a new policy to simplify the communication process.
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